It’s the one place where I refuse to
A few weeks ago I signed up for and participated in an 8K race. It was the first race I have been in for 4 ½ years. It was a very exciting day for me, as this was a formal occasion to be re-inducted into the world of running and racing. My previous stint with running was not a long one or a grandiose one, but it was one that I missed none-the-less. This race was a token and proof that even though I was four years older and 15 pounds heavier, I still had it in me to train, push to the end of myself, and go out there and do my best.
It was a perfect day for a race -warm enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt, but cool enough not to be burning up after two minutes of running. It was partly cloudy- and just windy enough to cool you down and be ready to put on your light jacket a few minutes after you’re done. My favorite kind of day to run.
Once my adrenaline kicked in during the first mile and I settled into my comfortable pace, I settled behind a woman that seemed to be running at a reasonable, do-able pace. I was feeling pretty good about myself because although she was considerably older than me, she seemed to look very fit. Her physique made me think that perhaps she had run right out of her mother’s womb, and some day when she is done, she will run right into her casket. I wanted to follow close behind her; this would motivate me to keep pushing past those Texas-sized hills ;) when my - “I want it to be flat”- self began to whine at my - “You better not stop”- self. As soon as we reached the turnaround point I got my second wind. This was mostly due to the realization that those uphill paths would now become downhill sprints. I passed my gray -haired friend with fierce determination. I was so grateful to her for encouraging me and cheering me on as I did so. Her words put an extra bounce in my step and a new wind in my sails. But, about a mile before the finish line my bounce began to fade and the wind stopped blowing my sails. The giver-upper in me kept saying: “If I could just stop for 10 seconds to rest, I just want this to be over already, I’m so tired.” But, the endure-er in me kept yelling: “Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t you dare stop.”
I didn’t stop.
I finished well.
I have a deep-rooted tendency toward jealousy, and if you are honest with yourself, I bet you do too. The green monster comes out at regular, almost predictable intervals. It shows up at the grocery store, the mall, the hair salon, on the soccer field, and even at church. It growls loud when you are feeling fat and ugly. It growls louder when she looks thin and gorgeous. It bucks its head when your child is defiant, and hers obeys immediately with a smile on his face. The monster pounces when her husband is attentive to her while your husband zones in on her as she walks past.
One of the reasons I love to run is because God has given me the gift of contentment when I run. Running is my place of refuge where green is not allowed.
When I run I don’t care what others think of me. When I run I don’t run to be faster than the girl next to me, or thinner than the one in front of me. I don’t care what my running clothes look like compared to hers, or what anybody thinks of my pace. When I run I don’t seek approval. Running is a sacred time for me. It’s where I can push hard without anyone pushing back. It’s where I go till I can go no more without anyone pushing me further. It is where I can show up without anyone expecting anything from me. It’s the one place where I don’t envy and I don’t want to be envied. And I believe that is exactly why God gave me this contentment. Running is the place where I learn to live.
I’ve learned that running isn’t about winning the race; it’s about running it well.
I want my life to be more like the way I run. I want shelter from the green monster at all times, not only during my runs.
I want to believe that life isn’t about being the best; it is about living my best.
It’s not about being the cutest, best dressed “it girl”, it’s about reflecting Christ’s beauty in me in whatever way he has equipped me to do so. It not about having the best behaved kids or the best marriage; it’s about learning how to love your family well.
I learned a valuable lesson on that perfect spring race day. Sometimes it is good to run alone and find pleasure in the gift of contentment; it’s very good to find that one place that protects us from our weaknesses. Look for it, and hold that sacred time close to you, because this is the place where you learn.
But always remember this: there are others running the same race with you. Some will need to follow your gray hair because it speaks to them and motivates them to keep going. Some will need to be cheered by it as they pass you by.
I want us to live in a world that never goes green, one in which we have beautiful women ahead of us to keep us going when the hills get too steep. One in which we have valiant women behind us cheering us on when we get our second wind. I want to live in a world where no matter how old we are, or how many ponds we weigh, or how long it takes us to get to the finish line, there will always be people there cheering us on, not because we’ve won the race, but because …